Tiffin Firefighters Local 322 is to be accepting applications for its annual toy project Nov. 26-Dec. 7.
The toy project provides toys for children 10 years of age and younger, said Rob Bish, chair of the toy project committee.
"It's something that has been a part of our local (fire station) for so many years," he said. "It's just tradition, I guess. Our job is helping people out, and this is just another way we can help them out in a non-emergency situation. We get a lot of satisfaction out of getting to see the kids come in, and they're all happy. And of course it's a really happy day for them because they get to see Santa Claus and get toys."
Applications for families who want to participate in the project can be picked up at the No. 1 fire station, 53 S. Monroe St.
People who wish to donate can send new toys or monetary donations to the station.
When the project started in the mid-1950s, people would bring used toys, which often were made of wood or metal, to the fire station and firefighters would repair the toys and gave them away, Bish said.
"When I first got involved in it, we used to just collect toys and took some
used, tried to stay with new, and then we would take whatever money we had and we would go out to the store and clean shelves of toys," he said. "We didn't have order or anything about it, that's just how it was done."
Bish said Keith Kirchner, a fire captain, had the idea to get a banquet hall and serve a meal with the toy project.
The project is 100 percent non-profit. Nearly all of the money donated to the project goes to toys, and the rest covers operation expenses such as mailing out applications, Bish said.
The project spends about $9,000 a year on toys for about 350 children, Bish said.
In addition to a toy, each child receives a scarf or knitted hat, library books, Ballreich's potato chips and popcorn balls from the Lion's club, Bish said.
Tiffin Firefighters Local 322 Toy Project's breakfast with Santa takes place 9-11 a.m. Dec. 15 at Somerset Reception Center.
"In another two or three weeks, I'll set up tables and we're going to have a mountain of toys," he said. "What's funner than getting toys around for kids at Christmas? It's a blast. We really enjoy it."